Letter: Threats are no solution to bike-pedestrian conflicts

The Gazette recently published a letter by Yanira Kilgore arguing that “dangerous bicyclists” need to share bike paths with pedestrians. (“Dangerous bicyclists need to learn to share the path,” Sept. 12.) What constitutes as “dangerous” for Ms. Kilgore is her observation of a cyclist who, while avoiding hitting a group of pedestrians clogging the path, told them to “Watch out!”

It is unclear how the cyclist utilizing a designated bicycle path is the one posing the dangerous threat in this situation. Rather, it is pedestrians that need to be more aware of the danger they cause when using bike areas.

The Southwest Corridor path is a major commuting route with two clearly separated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists. Any cyclist can attest to the fact that no matter how much signage there is, you must always be on alert for pedestrians. In my experience, those using bike paths are generally considerate of one another. What becomes exasperating, however, is when pedestrians ignore cyclists, and disregard the fact that they are utilizing a space that was not designed for them. This is creates a dangerous situation for everyone—and it is a situation caused by pedestrians such as Ms. Kilgore, not cyclists.

Cyclists typically ride at speeds much faster than walkers and joggers, between 10 and 15 mph, often in two directions at once. It is for this reason that lanes are designated along these pathways. It is unfortunate that Ms. Kilgore’s doublewide stroller does not fit onto the sidewalk, but putting her children at risk by using a bike path seems an odd solution. Using her logic, a cyclist could arguably ride down the middle of Route 93 and be miffed at those “dangerous” drivers honking their horns. “It’s everyone’s road! Bikers’ rights!”

Ms. Kilgore’s allusions to the brutality she would inflict upon cyclists was even more troubling—speaking of pushing people off their bikes, throwing sticks to cause crashes, and hitting cyclists with her “thousand-pound car.” It is disappointing that the Gazette would print a letter riddled with such misdirected and violent speech. While cyclists may yell at those whom they just avoided crashing into, this is simply out of frustration for everyone’s safety. No one wants injure themselves, or anyone else—aside from Ms. Kilgore, apparently.

We cyclists don’t want to run you over. We just want to enjoy the beautiful pathways of this city in safety. Instead of taking your anger out with threats, you could consider joining your fellow neighbors. Purchase a bicycle from one of the many great shops in JP, get out there and ride. You might just love it! When your kids are old enough to ride, I am sure you will appreciate that there is a safe path available just for their use.

But until then, take a closer look at your own actions. Look into purchasing a thinner stroller that accommodates both your children and the sidewalk—which, coincidentally, the law states cyclists are allowed to ride on as well.

But don’t worry, we never do that. It’s far too dangerous.

Erin McCutcheon

Jamaica Plain

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